Ten gems for moviegoers among Netflix’s hidden programming

In the month of March we began a series of pieces in EL PAÍS with the aim of rescuing a series of great hidden films from the enormous content of film platforms, which are normally not the ones that the algorithm offers at the first opportunity. And, after offering a selection of 10 titles from each of the major platforms, We return to Netflix to continue investigating its most hidden programming. Again, we have found jewels, surprises and some necessary vindication.

a man intervenes (1953), by Carol Reed.

four years after the third man, Reed returned to a similar space, situation, tone and subtexts: post-world war, divided city -in this case Berlin-, espionage environment, touches of film noir, equivocal personalities and various shenanigans around Western blocs. and eastern. Reed’s characteristic tilted shots to show viewer discomfort, already experienced in Long is the night and the third man, find their zenith in the spectacular kidnapping of the leading woman, as lost as the character in Joseph Cotten in the masterpiece set in Vienna. Meanwhile, the sinister axis of Orson Welles is executed this time by James Mason. He is not the third man, and it would be unfair to ask, but the fascinating snowy night scenes of a still-destroyed city are well worth its recovery, or its discovery, since it is a fairly unknown film.

therese raquin (1953), by Marcel Carne.

Carné transferred the setting of the original novel by Emile Zola from the second half of the 19th century to the contemporaneity of the 1950s, without losing a bit of bitterness in the portrait of the gray and melancholic life of a woman married to her paunchy and sickly cousin, who finds the light of passion that she never had on a tough trucker visiting his fabric store. The endless charisma of Simone Signoret and Raf Vallone, interpreter of the lover, feverish glances, warmth in his gestures, inhabitants of a backward and mean society. The loving enthusiasm that leads to crime and, later, to remorse. And the inner torment of two human beings doomed to self-destruction. Faced with the writer’s naturalism and psychologism, Carné bets on suspense, crime and sentimental emotion. Zola’s human beasts, hand in hand with Carné’s poetic halo.

Nola Darling (1986), by Spike Lee.

With the new wave and the New Hollywood as formal referents, above all the Martin Scorsese of Who’s That Knocking At My Door, although taking those essences to his own field, Lee debuted in the feature film with the stylish portrait of a free woman: the Nola Darling of the title, who has three lovers, each one more infamous and possessive despite the fact that they are the adulterers. Of course, she already dominates all of them from the staging of the African-American director, marking territory in a climactic dinner in a sexual and affective community, in which the shots from her point of view are in a high angle, with the camera higher up of their glances, and theirs in low angle, dwarfed by the situation and the girl. In beautiful black and white, in a comedy tone, and with a striking explosion of color in a musical sequence. In 2017, Lee himself turned his feminist heroine into a much more mainstream television series.

Tokyo Godfathers (2003), by Satoshi Kon.

Kon, master of anime, with films as formidable and influential as Perfect Blue Y Paprika, composed an unusual variant of the western three godparents, by John Ford, in which Western rustlers who had to cross the middle of the desert with an orphaned baby are replaced by three homeless vagrants who search the entire city for the parents of a baby abandoned in the garbage. The portrait of the triangle of characters, a surly alcoholic, an outgoing transvestite and a lost teenager, exposed through flashbacks that explain how they ended up on the street and in that helpless situation, it’s beautiful. And, along with the beautiful nocturnal designs of a sour and bitter city, festive and without brake, the very original tone of the film (for adults) catches the seduction: touches of brutal black comedy, nuances of social criticism and poignant personal drama. .

Joe Kidd (1972), by John Sturges.

A movie full of big names. Sturges, director of The Great Escape and Conspiracy of Silence, and one of the greats of Western cinema. Elmore Leonard, solo screenwriter and prestigious novelist, whose sententious dialogues offer a point-blank shot in each sequence: “Blink, your eyes will fall out.” Lalo Schifrin, composer. Robert Duvall, formidable villain. And of course, Clint Eastwood, protagonist and producer through his company Malpaso, created five years earlier. The character of Luis Chama is inspired by Reies López Tijerina, a Texan revolutionary leader from the sixties (note, from the 20th century, and not from the 19th century of the western setting), who in 1967 had broken into a courthouse in New Mexico taking hostages and demanding the return to the families of Mexican origin of the lands expropriated in the past. Something very similar to what happens in the story of Leonard filmed by Sturges.

the match girl (1928), by Jean Renoir.

Probably the great hidden gem of this piece, as it is a 32-minute medium-length film rarely seen until now, except on more specialized projection channels. Still in the silent stage of Renoir, and with the co-direction of Jean Tédesco, the match girl is a free adaptation of Andersen’s short story, about the loneliness and hardships of a young woman between the cold and snow of a night in the open. Of supreme beauty in each shot, with hardly any intertitles and with the expressive force of both the actress Catherine Hessling, with fascinating eyes and then Renoir’s wife, and the staging, the film explodes above all in its particular oneirism. The young woman’s hallucinations are visualized by Renoir with a catalog of craft special effects, tricks and superimpositions that leaves you speechless.

family-life (1971), by Ken Loach.

In 1967, a 29-year-old who in those days signed his papers as Kenneth Loach made an impressive telefilm for the BBC entitled In Two Minds. It dealt, in an almost documentary tone, with the mental problems of a young woman, based on the thesis of the Scottish psychiatrist RD Laing, then in vogue and close to antipsychiatry: the link between schizophrenia and a family environment that would favor its unleashing. Four years later, he filmed a new version for cinemas, with a somewhat more conventional narrative, somewhat avoiding the final thesis, although showing the same oppressive environment for the girl. Religion, pressure from her parents for an abortion when the girl becomes pregnant, the aggravation of her problems, medical treatment with electroshocks and internment in an institution. From the prison of the bad home, to the medical prison. shocking

Yield to the Night (1956), by J. Lee Thompson.

Before leaving for Hollywood to direct, among others, cape terror, some of the sequels to the first series of Planet of the Apes, and culminating his career filming the byproducts of Charles Bronson’s bespoke revenge, Lee Thompson created a handful of gritty low-budget films in his native England overflowing with staging talent. The first minutes of Yeld to the Night, During the pre-credits sequence, you are left glued to the sofa by the variety of camera angles, the fascinating perspectives and the roundness of each of its shots: the murder of a woman in the middle of the street by shots fired by the imposing fatal blonde played by Diana Dors. From there, touches of film noir in the flashbacks and, in the present of the story, a non-negotiable plea against capital punishment, by showing the days on death row immediately prior to his execution. in his album Singles, of the year 1995, the group The Smiths placed on its cover an expressive image of Dors, pale and without make-up in the prison of the film.

the red balloon (1956), by Albert Lamorisse.

At the 1958 Oscar ceremony, Federico Fellini and Tullio Pinelli, for the road, and William Rose, for the hilarious the quintet of death, were the big favorites for best original screenplay. However, a third contender gave the surprise in an unusual milestone, since it was a medium-length film of just over half an hour and practically silent: the red balloon, the historical story of lamorisse about the friendship between a six-year-old boy and a huge balloon found in the middle of the street. Pascal, the director’s son, walks the streets of autumnal Paris with the childlike spontaneity of one who is willing to do anything to be with his precious treasure. And, if you delve a little into history, you can even catch the Christian allegory of Calvary, death and resurrection of Christ.

The last temptation of Christ (1988), by Martin Scorsese.

Now that enough years have passed since its controversial premiere, it may be time to claim the height of this work from the presumably lesser decade of the eighties in Scorsese’s cinema. Paul Schrader, his screenwriter, so fond of theology and Christian symbolism throughout his career (along with Scorsese and without him), had the opportunity to explain a good part of his usual subtexts in the adaptation of the novel. by Nikos Kazantzakis. The guilt, the redemption and, of course, the temptation. The double nature of the figure of Christ unfolds in depth to the point of marking the understandable doubts of someone who, despite his divine status, was also a man to the full extent of him. And that amazing cast, with Willem Dafoe as Jesus, Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene, Harvey Keitel as Judas and even David Bowie as Pontius Pilate.

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Ten gems for moviegoers among Netflix’s hidden programming